Even some diehard loyalists say he needs to set aside lingering bitterness and get behind the GOP nominee.
They volunteered for Ted Cruz, gave him campaign money and still adore the Texas senator.
But now it’s time, say even some of his longtime loyalists, for Cruz to finally endorse Donald Trump.
Cruz, who will address the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, remains one of the GOP’s most prominent holdouts, refusing to back his presidential primary rival even as most other Trump critics have come around — if only with their noses plugged.
Fom his Iowa chairman to members of his home state delegation, some of Cruz’s top supporters are now on board with Trump. And many hope Cruz hurries up and gets there, too — for the sake of the party, and, some suggest, for that of his own political future.
“I think it’d be better if he did, I really do,” said Sue Cleveland of the Texas delegation, who said she volunteered for Cruz and donated to his campaign. “I think Cruz will really ensure his bright future if he does come together and say, ‘This is for our party.’ We need to unify and get behind the candidate, Donald Trump.”
It’s a painful proposition for Cruz, whose bitterness toward the now-nominee is barely concealed after the ugly final stretch of their primary battle — and whose allies are already eyeing 2020.
The Texas senator exited the race in May hours after a heated press conference in which he called Trump “a serial philanderer,” a “pathological liar” and “utterly amoral,” after Trump tried to link Cruz’s father to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It was the final salvo in a string of personal attacks that also targeted Cruz’s wife.
Trump’s remarks were egregious, Cruz’s supporters say, and hard to get over. But they argue that it’s time for all Republicans to look ahead to the general election and unite to stop Hillary Clinton.
“I do see he has difficulties because there were harsh words uttered about Cruz and his family,” said Kathy Rogers, a Texas delegate and Cruz backer in the primary. “But I do believe he has the good of the party in mind, and I hope he would support the nominee and support the country by getting rid of Hillary.”
Jeneria Lewis, a third member of the Texas delegation who supported Cruz in the primary, added that if Trump “is what the country wants, then we do need to unite.”
And “in the name of tradition, in the name of unity, sure,” Cruz should endorse, she continued.
At the roll call vote here in Cleveland Tuesday night, it was clear that while Cruz still has plenty of fans among the conservative grass roots, many of them have moved on.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick described Cruz as “our dear friend, a great conservative, our favorite son, who we love.”
But Trump is “our new friend,” Patrick said, an “adopted favorite son.”
The Iowa roll call — the first state Cruz won — was read off by his Iowa campaign chairman, Matt Schultz.
“Pursuant to the rules, the state of Iowa proudly casts its 30 votes for the next president of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump!” Schultz exclaimed at Quicken Loans Arena.
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